My name is Anushi Desai and I am the founder of award-winning snack brand Plant Pops, which creates a range of plant-based snacks using ancient grains and seeds from around the world – starting with popped lotus seeds.
I founded Plant Pops about 18 months ago and we launched our product a year ago. Before launching my own brand, I was a management consultant and worked predominantly with large high street banks (with zero food experience in the Food & Drink sphere!).
Now, my day-to-day role heading up the Plant Pops brand includes everything from developing new flavours for our upcoming NPD, to meeting buyers to secure new retail listings for our products.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Not as such – I’ve always had things I wanted to do and milestones I wanted to achieve, but I never quite imagined I would end up running my own business in the Food & Drink industry!
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
There have been lots of challenges along the way, especially fundraising! It was a hard and interesting journey launching a product in an industry that I didn’t know that much about. But it has been such an incredible learning curve for me and I’m definitely a stronger businesswoman now because of it. Now, we are in the process of raising over £150,000 of investment and we’ve won key listings such as Harvey Nichols, Urban Outfitters, The Vegan Supermarket and Amazon Prime, which I’m really proud of.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Launching our first edition of Plant Pops was incredible and winning the Best Snacking Innovation of the Year at the World Food Innovation Awards the same weekend felt like a real achievement! Also seeing our first packets on shelves in stores felt like a huge success – it took a lot of work to get to that point.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I believe that female-to-female mentorship has been integral to the success of launching my first business. I regularly consult a number of female entrepreneurs, including Jane Michell, founder of multi-million pound weight loss meal plan Jane Plan, who from the beginning has provided me with counsel on all aspects of launching a successful food and drink business in the UK, from raising investment, to PR & Marketing and the most effective networking strategies. I really admire Jane’s drive and outlook, and her advice has been invaluable.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I feel very strongly about the benefits of mentoring. This has been such a great support for me personally while I have been launching my brand and business. It is particularly important to support female entrepreneurship in the UK so that talent can be fostered.
I’m now looking to pay forward the mentoring that I have received and have recently become a female-to-female mentor within the London Business School’s MBA Business cohort. I’m incredibly excited to see what lies in store for the next generation of female founders and entrepreneurs!
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?
It’s so important to have female role models – you cannot be what you cannot see and it paves the way for women to strive forward and accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality when they are inspired by strong role models.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Take a chance, try new things and make sure that you always back yourself! I never thought that I would start my own company in an industry I have no experience in. But here I am! It was the best risk career-wise that I have taken in my life.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
We’re navigating very uncertain times at the moment, so that is our immediate challenge, which is the same for lots of businesses at the moment. Longer term, we are bringing out brand new plant-based snacks that people might never have tried before – we want to change the way people snack and encourage them to snack differently.
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